While the Rockmart girls and Chattooga boys have seen success in the postseason before, the two teams are now entering into uncharted territory.
The squads will compete Saturday in the Georgia High School Association state basketball playoffs today in Milledgeville, playing in the Final Four for the first time in the history of the programs.
The Lady Jackets (23-6) will face Southwest-Macon at 2 p.m., and the Indians (24-6) will take on third-ranked Therrell at 8 p.m. The games will take place at the Georgia College and State University Centennial Center.
The Indians have already seen some tough competition, having upset two higher-seed teams earlier in the playoffs. Chattooga defeated Thomasville in the second round 66-60 then Banks County in the quarterfinals, 67-57. Therell is the top-seed out of Region 6-AA.
“Our confidence is sky high,” Chattooga coach Jared Groce said. “These boys have handled everything that’s been thrown their way. I see the determination on their faces. They want to show the state of Georgia what Chattooga basketball is all about.”
The Panthers (24-7) have won seven straight games and rolled to a 24-point win against Putnam County in the opening round, but have since come up big in some close contests. The Panthers topped Laney 65-56 in the second round and Washington County 57-55 in the quarterfinals.
“It’s a really big stage, but having gone on the road for the past two rounds and playing in tough atmospheres has prepared them for this game,” Groce said. “I don’t think anything could faze them at this point.”
The Lady Jackets face a team that has won 12 of its last 13 games and is ranked sixth in the state.
The Lady Patriots (24-3), the No. 2 seed out of Region 3-AA, rolled through the opening two rounds, topping Fitzgerald 60-36 and Bremen 62-36, respectively. Most recently, the Lady Patriots knocked off No. 2-ranked Laney 50-47 in the quarterfinals.
Rockmart is on a big streak of its own, winning the last 12 games, including a win over Chattooga for the Region 7-AA championship.
“We’ve had a solid week of practices, and we’re intense and focused,” Rockmart coach Andre Clark said. “They understand where they’re at and what’s at stake.”
The Lady Jackets also have a huge offensive weapon in junior Keyarah Berry. The new all-time scorer for Rockmart has totaled 117 points through three games in the playoffs for an average of 39 points per game.
“Our team is confident because every team we’ve played has tried to slow down Keyarah and nothing has worked,” Clark said. “We have an opportunity to be in the game regardless of what they do.”